A Screaming Mum Sound May Make a Better Smoke Alarm

By Gary Cutlack on at

A study into the world of smoke alarms has found that today's beeping tones are not a particularly engaging alarm for children, who have been taught by society to generally ignore things that beep all the time as they usually stop by themselves or mean something stupid like the dishwasher needs help, so it's OK to go back to sleep when the house is beeping at 3:45am.

It would be safer, clever people are thinking, if a more responsive sound was used to alert children to the fact that the tumble dryer is trying to murder them while they sleep. Researchers suggest that using a distressed or urgent woman's voice to say "FIRE! A REAL FIRE! SOPHIE WAKE UP!" might be a better choice than an alarm tone, as being woken up in the night by a panicking mummy should generate more of an instinct to grab their iPad and run out of the house in their pyjamas.

The University of Dundee is leading a test of potential new fire alarm sounds, with the team warning that around 80 per cent of children tested in a small trial weren't awoken by an alarm going off -- and asking for 500 keen helper families to take part in a wider test of possible new alert noises in the real world. [University of Dundee]

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